by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If you appreciated John Hood’s recent Daily Journal on the “poor” state of current poverty statistics, you might enjoy a new column at National Review Online from Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation. Rector asks: What is poverty in America today?
The most recent government data show that more than half of the families defined as poor by the Census Bureau have a computer in the home. More than three of every four poor families have air conditioning, almost two-thirds have cable or satellite television, and 92 percent have microwaves.
How poor are America’s poor? The typical poor family has at least two color TVs, a VCR, and a DVD player. One-third have a wide-screen, plasma, or LCD TV. And the typical poor family with children has a video-game system such as Xbox or PlayStation.
Are these government numbers a fluke? Perhaps they’re artificially inflated because working-class families — with lots of conveniences in their homes — have lost jobs in the recession and temporarily joined the ranks of the poor?
Nope. That’s not what drives these numbers. Instead, the broad array of modern conveniences in the homes of the poor is the result of many decades of steady improvement in their living standards.
Year by year, the poor tend to be better off.